Twenty-foot jump

The most exciting thing about the summer of ’74 was the news that Evel Knievel was going to try to jump the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho in September. I scratched the days off my calendar every morning. It was all I could think about. It would mean the end of summer, but I didn’t care.

A swollen breeze filled the street most days that August. The Egg River had run dry and all you could smell was soot and decay. Sometimes the wind would push it along, but mostly it came, hung around for a while, and went with no noticeable change in the stink. Eventually, you didn’t notice how bad it got unless a whiff of clean air stumbled by. I don’t think it was much worse than the coal piles, except that it smelled alive. The smell of something dying.

Dad was changing the oil in the Maverick, and Cal and I were sitting on the front lawn, sweaty, stinky, and poking each other with sticks. We were too lethargic to do much else. Continue reading “Twenty-foot jump”

Movement and not

So we sat in his car,” I told her. “I think it was the first car my father ever owned. You could smell a brand new air freshener, and the clear-plastic seat covers and new rubber floor mats. Everything was clean. The ashtray, the dials on the radio, the dashboard lights. Polished. And he sat there. It was freezing rain, and the trees looked like paintings. The car wasn’t turned on – it was a ’72 Ford Maverick, four door, tan. It was cold inside, wet outside. The roads were slick and ice was already sticking to the hood and windshield. We’d been in there for fifteen minutes, maybe longer. Everything was gray and dull. Except for the inside of his car.”

Could she hear me?

‘Comes a time when you have to make choices, boy,’ he said. His words came out in small white puffs. ‘You stay put or you move on. Every choice has a consequence. Like that time you rolled down the hill in that old oil barrel. What kind of choice was that?’ Continue reading “Movement and not”

A fragrance, in the dark

Marie was the Head Nurse on the second floor. She was a stern woman with ice blue eyes and a head of tight black curls. She saw me sitting in Room 215, in the dark, mop bucket beside the door.

She pointed at me, then the door. I got the point.

What are you doing in there?” Her voice was a rough whisper, the practiced tone of someone used to speaking low.

I was just sitting.”

The nurses’ station still needs cleaning.”

I know. I heard everyone talking and was waiting for things to quiet down.”

Really? Is that how we do things now? Wait until it’s convenient?”

I’m sorry. I just wanted to see her. Heck said–”

Heck’s not a doctor, and he shouldn’t be saying anything.”

Because he’s a janitor?” Continue reading “A fragrance, in the dark”

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